In a major boost to the Indian Air Force’s combat capabilities, eight US-made Apache AH-64E attack helicopters are set to be inducted into the IAF on September 3, officials said on Monday.

Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa will be the chief guest during the induction ceremony, which will take place at the Pathankot Air Force station.

The AH-64E Apache is one of the world’s most advanced multi-role combat helicopters and is flown by the US Army.

“Eight of the Apache attack helicopters are set to be inducted into the IAF, that will enhance the force’s combat capabilities,” a senior IAF official said.

The IAF had signed a multi-billion dollar contract with the US government and Boeing Ltd in September 2015 for 22 Apache helicopters.

The first four of the 22 helicopters was handed over to the air force by Boeing on July 27.

The delivery of the first batch of Apache helicopters to the IAF at the Hindan airbase had come nearly four years after a multi-billion dollar deal for the choppers was sealed.

Additionally, the Defence Ministry in 2017 approved the procurement of six Apache helicopters along with weapons systems from Boeing at a cost of Rs. 4,168 crore for the Army.

This will be its first fleet of attack choppers. By 2020, the IAF will operate a fleet of 22 Apaches. These first deliveries were ahead of schedule.

The AH-64E Apache for the Indian Air Force completed successful first flights in July 2018. The first batch of Indian Air Force crew began their training to fly the Apache in the US in 2018.

Senior IAF officials said the addition of the Apache fleet will significantly enhance the force’s combat capabilities as the chopper has been customised to suit IAF’s future requirements.

Boeing has delivered more than 2,200 Apaches to customers around the world since the aircraft entered production and India is the 14th nation to select it for its military.

“By 2020, the IAF will operate a fleet of 22 Apaches, and these first deliveries are ahead of schedule,” Boeing had earlier said.

The aerospace major said the AH-64E has the latest technology insertions, maintaining its standing as the world’s best attack helicopter.

“It is the only available combat helicopter with a spectrum of capabilities for virtually any mission requirement. For the AH-64 E, this includes greater thrust and lift, joint digital operability, improved survivability and cognitive decision aiding.

“It is uniquely suited to meet the commander’s needs, including reconnaissance, security, peacekeeping operations, and lethal attack – in both land and littoral environments – all without reconfiguration,” it said.